This War of Mine – Review

This little War of mine…

Developed by War Child, experience war from a different perspective: the torn lives of the civilians. Take the run and gun method of a first person shooter, the ease of utilizing resources readily available and tactics of a real time strategy, and the creative freedom you get with an RPG. Combine them in a mixing pot and you get a nice balance found in the game which is an atmospheric phenomena dragging you through the pits of despair that is war.

It may even be possible to survive without firing a single shot, but that could be at the risk of your own peril.

The game opens up on a run-down home, 5 stories high, which is broken, exposed and freezing.  It’s a random drawing of which characters you may start with, and the characters themselves may vary.  It explains that the daytime is very dangerous for supply runners (as you are more likely to be shot) so any building, repairs, feeding, bandaging or trading can be done in the morning.

As you learn about the members of you home, you find that they each contain a particular skill, which can help you out in the daily grind.  Zlata is a student of music and can uplift those party members who are feeling down. Pavle is a fast runner and can escape enemy attacks in a scavenging zone.

Once the clock strikes 8:00 p.m., that’s when the real fun begins.  Choose your plan for the night.  You may allow your characters to do one of 4 actions: Scavenge, Guard, Sleep or Sleep in a Bed.  It may seem redundant between Sleep and Sleep in a Bed, but it really makes all the difference.  Beds are hard to come by unless you have the right materials to build enough for your team, but remember you must always have someone ready to defend against the raiders.  You can also choose to have everyone rest overnight, but that may waste some precious scavenging time to get some supplies that are vital to your needs.  Though they are all pretty important, the Scavenger has the hardest and the riskiest job, and each character has a set number of backpack slots which may limit your carry load.  You can choose which place you’d like to investigate, though some places are more difficult to dig through than others.  Your actions will have consequence.  Choose to wring a house dry of its meds and food, and the elderly couple may suffer from your actions.  Kill someone in cold blood, and the entire house morale will go down.  The game also offers snippets of warnings written along the walls or notes left inside desks within homes, offering up more tidbits of information of the NPC’s in the game.

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There is little to no voicework in the game, offering grunts and panting and moaning from time to time when your character is wounded or ill.  The deaths are pretty brutal and there’s even possibility of losing members throughout the game, not just by death but a chance of abandonment. The music and atmosphere are present, giving the gloom of (the implied) Eastern Europe which has been destroyed by this ongoing battle.  The haunting tune paints an eerie backdrop that emphasizes the struggle suffered by these poor people, amplifying the misery.

Crafting in the game is difficult, only because parts needed when you scavenge are bunched into your backpack and you can be over-encumbered quite quickly.  It makes for a more realistic take on scavenging when you hold it in contrast to games like Skyrim or Fallout.  There are no methods of assisting your backpack or carry-weight, as you must choose which supplies with which you wish to return home.  Remember: You must choose wisely.  Though you may want to get as many supplies out there to craft weaponry, heaters, stoves, beds and other important appliances, food stashes are important to keep your crew strong.  It’s possible that your home may be raided by thugs in the night, and be warned: they are ruthless.  Members of your party may become injured and you will need bandages or medication to help them combat illness or injury.

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It is impressive how attached you may become to these characters.  Though they may not be able to audibly tell their story, the biographies will update from time to time when something crosses their mind or directly affects them.  For example, when the scavenger goes out on the town to find supplies and happens upon a hostile storage facility and has to make the choice between kill or be killed–the consequences are pretty brutal. Even if you are only grazed in physical injury during any altercation, your scavenger may have a mental breakdown; and this will affect their performance in the game, and change the way they play from moving slowly throughout the house or simply falling to their knees as if they have lost all faith. Much like the mood enhancers throughout EA’s “The Sims” games, you are able to lift your mood using pep talks, crafting a radio or doing the good deed and helping out others who come seeking aid — these opportunities take a lot of time, energy and are few and far between.

Overall, it is a great experience.  It may be likened to a mix of Oregon Trail meets the God-mode controlling of the Sims meets the grit and everyone-out-for-themselves mentality in The Last of Us set in a dark, war-riddled town. For those of you who enjoy a good time-management game with a great story to go with it, play this game.  Even after two playthroughs, surviving 28 days then 18 days after that, it is apparent that there are so many different angles to see, places to explore, people to encounter and things to obtain.  This War of Mine is a unique and chilling narrative that bring unlikely civilians together to survive.  Their skill and personality combined bring together a player-developed outcome, and the possibilities open it up to being played over and again.

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Pick up THIS WAR OF MINE on Steam for $19.99!

Krys’ Score: 5/5

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One thought on “This War of Mine – Review

  1. Pingback: 2014: The Good, The Badass, The Unfinished | In CTRL

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